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Inner Harbour of Victoria


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#21 mat

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:38 AM

The are surely near misses daily in the harbour - but the only accident I can recall is back in '89/'90 (someone have access to TC archives?) A Twin Otter lost a float on landing, and 9 passengers and crew ended up in the water...

Victoria Harbour has a real charm. It is a working harbour...it will change with the times. From fishing and freight, to passenger ferries and whale tours; and float planes. Enjoy it.

#22 Sue Woods

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:45 AM

I agree. All the folks that say it is an accident waiting to happen, well, we've never had a accident (I don't think? ... and if so it was not because of homes), and the proximity of homes does not make it more dangerous.


I am happy to confirm that there has never been a serious accident in all the many years that float planes have been flying in and out of the Inner Harbour. We are known for having exceptionally skilled traffic control overseeing the safe arrival and leavings by both sea and air. And ours is renowned as the busiest harbour in Canada.

Such a great asset to our landscape and civic pride.

Cheers, Sue

#23 Bernard

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 06:51 AM

We have endless amounts of waterfront in Greater Victoria but very little that is suitable for industrial use. The bulk of what is appropriate for industrial use on the Esquimalt side is used by the Navy. We are left with a very small amount of land that can be used for industrial purposes.

Where dockside green is going in should have been kept as industrial and should have been redeveloped as a shipping terminal connected to an industrial park. The location is right by the rail line and rail is the best way on land to ship many goods.

We are an island of 750 000 people with most of us on the south end, but we have no decent container shipping location.

#24 Rob Randall

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:52 AM

I am happy to confirm that there has never been a serious accident in all the many years that float planes have been flying in and out of the Inner Harbour. We are known for having exceptionally skilled traffic control overseeing the safe arrival and leavings by both sea and air. And ours is renowned as the busiest harbour in Canada.

Such a great asset to our landscape and civic pride.

Cheers, Sue


There have been several crashes and serious incidents involving float planes in the Harbour over the years. A few of us clearly remember the days when primary Harbour carrier Air West was jokingly referred to as "Scare West".

In 1976, An Air West Twin Otter crashed in the Strait of Juan De Fuca enroute from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria harbour. No serious injuries except one of the two dogs on board died.

My girlfriend's mother worked with Socred Cabinet Minister Pat Jordan who was a passenger in a scheduled floatplane when it crashed in the Harbour. The other passengers stayed with the plane while Jordan swam to shore.

In 1989 an Air BC flight dropped out of the sky and crashed in the Inner Harbour. There were no serious injuries either in that incident.

In 1992, a Rainbow Air floatplane exploded and crashed in Nanaimo Harbour, killing eight.

In those years, the safety records of the airlines, particularly Air West were in disrepute. Planes were sometimes poorly maintained and overloaded. Still, floatplane travel has been incident-free for a vdry long time and the inside of a local seaplane may be statistically one of the safest places to be in the world, probably safer than your own bathtub.

This is a topic of interest for me as my father was a former Victoria float plane pilot, air traffic controller and NavCanada accident investigator.

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#25 Mike K.

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 10:30 AM

In 2000 a Westcoast Air flight crashed while taking off from Vancouver's Coal Harbour and destined for Victoria. Luckily there were no fatalities.

There was another incident only several years ago in Vancouver but I can't recall the details.

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#26 Sue Woods

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 11:10 AM

There have been several crashes and serious incidents involving float planes in the Harbour over the years. A few of us clearly remember the days when primary Harbour carrier Air West was jokingly referred to as "Scare West".


Hi Rob,

To clarify - and I wrote my post too late last night so was brief - I meant by saying no "serious" air accidents in the Inner Harbour as meaning no "loss of life". My news training at play.

I know there have been fatal accidents as you refer to in Nanaimo and along the Strait etc - but I was just focussing on our specific area.

I meant in no way to trivialize - and agree flight is always a high risk activity of course.

Thx, Sue

#27 Joseph

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:24 PM

To say flight is dangerous because we can't control our harbour is to say driving is dangerous because we can't control our roads...(and driving, by the way, is much more dangerous statistically). Accidents happen, but our harbour seems pretty safe to me.

#28 Sue Woods

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 03:12 PM

I see I was posted in wrong thread.
Opps. Never mind. Sue

#29 Bernard

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 03:47 PM

Do not forget Air BC was known in the late 1970s early 80s as Scare BC

#30 victorian fan

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 04:58 PM

Do not forget Air BC was known in the late 1970s early 80s as Scare BC



That was Air West, Scare West.

#31 Rob Randall

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:24 PM

Hi Rob,

To clarify - and I wrote my post too late last night so was brief - I meant by saying no "serious" air accidents in the Inner Harbour as meaning no "loss of life". My news training at play.

I know there have been fatal accidents as you refer to in Nanaimo and along the Strait etc - but I was just focussing on our specific area.

I meant in no way to trivialize - and agree flight is always a high risk activity of course.

Thx, Sue


I understand. I didn't mean to sound snappish. If someone came on here saying flying out of the harbour was dangerous I'd be equally blunt. But people often forget the wild west days of float aviation. When my dad was flying in the 60s, all you had to do was rent a plane for a few dollars if you had your float qualifications and take it for a spin out of the harbour.

I disagree with your assessment of flying as a high risk activity. It is statistically very low risk with modern avionic equipment and higher standards than ever. Generally in aviation, on those rare occassions when something goes wrong, it goes very wrong.

On my last flight with my dad (after a couple of decades out of the cockpit) the instructor had my dad practice a couple of aerodynamic stalls. I remember looking straight out the side window and seeing the treetops of one of the gulf islands as the plane began to tumble. As per his training, he brought the plane into level flight with ease. Yikes. And that was without pontoons as a safety backup.

When you look skyward it looks random, but flights into the Inner Harbour follow strict paths. Concern has been raised about future high rises but they pose little risk and even if skyscrapers were built, pilots would simply note them among the rest of the "off limits" airspace.

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#32 jklymak

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 08:22 PM

Where dockside green is going in should have been kept as industrial and should have been redeveloped as a shipping terminal connected to an industrial park. The location is right by the rail line and rail is the best way on land to ship many goods.

We are an island of 750 000 people with most of us on the south end, but we have no decent container shipping location.


Interesting point. It seems a bit of a shame that the harbour is not a working harbour. However, is it a case of the industry being pushed out or the industry dying and being replaced? I think you'd have to do more than just zone land industrial - there has to be an industry willing to use it, preferably for something that needs harbour land.

#33 Mike K.

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 08:27 PM

Pushed out, I think. The scrap metal operation south of Selkirk Waterfront has noted that its days are numbered. Complaints and municipal "pressure" take their tolls on these types of operations.

Several years ago the TC ran an article about that business the proprietors had assessed sites in the Nanaimo area and somewhere on the west shore, but even there barge access would be limited since the quarry operation in Colwood is all but closed to make way for housing. Nanaimo is already the industrial centre of the Island, no?

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#34 jklymak

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 08:49 PM

Well, then Bernard is onto something. If there is value in protecting a working harbour to promote industries and local jobs then maybe the civic government should try to do that via zoning, tax breaks and incentives?

When we looked at homes, one of the thing we noted about the DG and the Railyards was the industrial noise across the water. I don't think it was an issue for us, but folks who move in there had better not start complaining about it. I think its good to have shipping and industry in Victoria - high tech and resort living can only carry an economy so far.

#35 mat

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 09:17 PM

One thing noticed among tourism officials; bar and restaurant owners near or along the harbour are the comments from visitors about the activities in the harbour, especially the industrial and commerce usage. The vast majority consider it a fascination...float planes, gravel barges, commercial fishing boats mingling with kayaks, whale watching and fishing tours; and the ferries.

What we have is the Granville Island ideal, on a larger scale - and it is fantastic (to watch). There are ways to ensure a comfortable mix continues, but realize the nature of the shipping and fishing industry is changing (has been for the last 10 years) so smaller scale business is problematic.

One possible way to promote mixed growth - TC/City should provide public dock/land access space for a weekly public market that highlights fresh fish off the boats, local producers and entertainment. This would help in the attraction for high density, mixed development, tourism and locally based fish boats.

#36 Caramia

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 10:38 PM

From my understanding non-harbour based industry has moved or shut down due to rising land costs. Warehouses, and light industrial activity are better on cheap land, where trucks have easy access. The water dependent industries stayed.

I agree - it is vital to preserve the working harbour. Thousands of jobs depend on the harbour industries - fishing, aggregate, recreation, recycling, transportation, hospitality...

I think sometimes people want the heavier industries to go elsewhere so more residential can take over. But think of the fuel we save by not trucking all that aggregate in from Colwood! Instead we've had Ralmax and Ocean Island bringing it in on 60 tonne barges - we've had this environmentally sustainable industry pattern for years, and now, with our carbon footprint to think of, we need to make sure we preserve it.

Buffer zones between residential and industrial would help shield these two uneasy neighbours from each other. Perhaps the creation of an industrial land reserve.
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#37 G-Man

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 06:27 AM

I think we should do whatever to protect the industry we have left. Dockside green is supposed to have a light industry component to some of the areas along Harbour Road. And like the seaplanes, you should not even be allowed to complain about the noise of the harbour after buying there. People need to accept some personal responsibility in their lives.

#38 aastra

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 10:22 AM

One thing noticed among tourism officials; bar and restaurant owners near or along the harbour are the comments from visitors about the activities in the harbour, especially the industrial and commerce usage. The vast majority consider it a fascination...


Do they ever. Just look at their comments on travel sites and check out their vacation pictures for proof. Methinks most Victorians really don't understand this. Floatplanes and helicopters are offensive, ships and marinas are mundane, the Johnson Street Bridge is lame, the harbour is boring...unless you happen to come from a place that has none of these things (for example, the vast majority of cities across North America).

This is precisely why the inner harbour is so appealing to many people: because it's so active, busy, and noisy.

#39 aastra

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 10:26 AM

This is precisely why the inner harbour is so appealing to many people: because it's so active, busy, and noisy.


The problem is, it's also why the inner harbour is so frustrating to many people.

But then again, such people could live anywhere else on the island and be as happy as the proverbial clams.

#40 Mike K.

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 11:31 AM

Right. Instead they chose to live amid a hive of activity. And now the rest of the city is supposed to be sympathetic?

For what it's worth, Songhees residents are also pushing for an expanded Pt. Ellice bridge so the thought of decreasing activity in their immediate vicinity while demanding increased auto infrastructure in an adjacent part of Vic West doesn't sit well with me.

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